Although weight loss is a significant goal, I believe that we can set fitness and wellness goals for ourselves that are even more meaningful and important. This blog post is all about why I plan on ditching the scale, and you should too!
I’m just going to put this meme right here. I saw it a few years ago, and I laughed out loud but also groaned inside my head. Since my late twenties to now, I have easily put on ten to fifteen pounds. When I think of the number on the scale and the increase in clothing sizes, this bothers me. And yet, I find that I love the way I look slightly more than when I was younger. For the most part, I find that my body image is actually more positive in the past, but I still have a long way to go.
1. Body Hang-Ups Happen At Any Weight
This summer, my friends and I sat at the neighborhood public pool, sunbathing…the most vulnerable time for most women! We each commiserated about something that we didn’t like about our bodies. We talked about muscle tone, being too skinny, having thick thighs, and obsessing over belly fat. Every single one of us had something that we didn’t like about our bodies. When I was in my teens and early twenties, I didn’t talk about it with my friends, but I always thought about what I did or didn’t like.
Sometimes we are too busy comparing ourselves to other people. Sometimes we get stuck comparing our bodies to what we looked like 5 or 10 years ago. I have never liked my stomach region! No matter what the weight on the scale said for me, even at my lowest, I have never liked it. We also need to accept that many people feel this way, even if you think they look perfectly fine.
Instead of fixating on the number on the scale to be the perfect “fix” for our body hang-ups, we need to focus on which parts of our bodies we love. You can always “accentuate the positive!” I feel on top of the world when I’m wearing clothing that shows off all of my favorite parts (shoulders, calves, etc.). Yes, you can improve the areas you don’t love through fitness and diet, but the first place that you need to “eliminate the negative” is in your own mind. If you want to hear more about how to feel good in your clothes, click here to see one of my previous posts.
2. Women’s Bodies are Designed Differently
We fall into a dangerous trap comparing ourselves to other people. I used to be guilty of looking up the weight of celebrities who were the same height as I was, and trying to be that weight. Most of the time, their weight was a good ten pounds less than I was. I have never weighed 110-115 pounds at 5’5″ in my adult life, and yet this is the weight I would try to achieve. I’m not saying that celebrities aren’t real people….but they do have personal trainers and often people to cook for them. This can be unrealistic for an everyday person to try to achieve. We are juggling work, cooking healthy meals, trying to exercise, being able to relax, and taking care of our families. We can’t do it all every single day.
We also compare ourselves to the people we see every day… our friends, our family, and co-workers. As discussed in a previous article, women each have a different body shape. Your body is just not going to be the same as your best friend. End of story! In terms of body shape, I have friends who are each of the different shapes (ruler, pear, apple, inverted triangle). I could never be just like them if I tried! We need to appreciate our bodies for their uniqueness and strength.
3. Same Weight, Different Results
One of the reasons I feel better now than I did in high school is that I actually work out now. I would fixate over my weight and still see cellulite on my thighs (I no longer care about that…it seems inevitable!). A few years ago, I started taking long hikes every day during the summer and doing interval training. My legs were cut! And guess what?? I weighed the exact same as I did before…but I felt and looked better. The scale just shows you a number, but nothing else.
4. Shut Up! You’re Beautiful Already!
Unless I am grossly mistaken, there is no person going around and weighing everyone to determine if they are beautiful or not. You may be worried about your number on the scale, but I guarantee your boyfriend is probably not thinking about it! My boyfriend won’t even listen to me talk about any of this nonsense. It’s due to him that I am slightly heavier… we love to go out to eat, especially for breakfast! He loves me the way that I am, and I also know friends whose boyfriends/husbands couldn’t care less about their weight. We are able to enjoy our lives and just be happy by doing the things we love!
5. Weight is NOT the Best Measurement
Weight is a very commonly used measurement for physical fitness. Considering that your weight may not determine your level of fitness (see #3 above), there are other, better measurements that you can use to set fitness goals. Have you heard that muscle weighs more but is denser than fat? Your weight may stay the same, but often your circumference measurements of your arms, thighs, waist, bust, and hips will decrease. If you want a numerical measurement to measure progress, here it is. You can also see if you are able to fit into pants that were a little snug in the past. I am currently a size 6, but have many size 4 jeans and dress pants that I would love to squeeze into.
You could also measure the amount of reps or how much weight you were able to lift, and how this increases over time. In addition, you can set goals about how many crunches or push-ups you can do in a row. You could time yourself doing planks, wall sits, or running a 5K. After that, keep trying to beat your personal best to continue improvement.
Hopefully, exercising makes you just feel better on its own! I only recently started a pretty cool workout program and meal plan with Beach Body. I am already feeling so great and accomplished at the end of a workout, and love how rock hard my thighs feel after a week of workouts. Talk about intrinsic motivation! I am not a big fan of dieting but so far am enjoying trying new foods. I feel super energized, despite it being the first week of school, due to the foods I’m eating and trying to make exercise a routine.
Just finding something that you love to do to exercise is half the battle. I have always loved the Just Dance video games and started trying Zumba in 2014. It turns out, even though I had never been trained as a dancer when I was younger, I just love dancing! I recently joined an amazingly cool hip-hop glow dance class in Philly with Vernique Fields (she’s a DJ and fitness instructor!). It’s so much easier to exercise when you really, really like it. One other thing that I love doing is taking my dog, Gatsby, for walks.
As you can see, I never told you to stop working out or eating healthy. Just don’t obsess over the number on the scale. If you need to wean yourself off from the scale, do it every week, then every other week, and eventually monthly. We all fluctuate a little bit day to day, so there’s no sense in beating yourself up over small differences! It’s also okay to set fitness and wellness goals for yourself, but keep these points in mind. We are more than our hang-ups, bodies, and weight.
“We are more than just flesh and bones. There’s a certain spiritual nature and something of the mind that we can’t measure. We can’t find it. With all our sophisticated equipment, we cannot monitor or define it, and yet it’s there.”
Tell me, what resonated with you in this blog post? What’s one goal you set for yourself that has nothing to do with weight? What’s your favorite way to exercise?
Until next time…